Al Molinare was born in Glendale, California, in 1945. While attending San Diego State University he enlisted in the Naval Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate program on October 1, 1966, and he went on active duty to attend flight school after graduating with a bachelor's degree from San Diego State in 1968. After receiving his commission as an Ensign and his designation as a Naval Aviator in 1969, Ens Molinare attended F-4 Phantom II Replacement Air Group training with VF-121 at NAS Miramar, California. His next assignment was as an F-4B pilot with VF-51 at NAS Miramar, and then deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) from November 1971 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on April 27, 1972. After spending 336 days in captivity, LT Molinare was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries, and then left active duty on August 30, 1973. After leaving active duty, Al flew commercial airliners for 33 years before retiring in 2005. He and his wife Karen have been married since 1968, and they have one son and two daughters together.
His 3rd Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads:
For meritorious service while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from April 1972 to March 1973. Under the most adverse of conditions, he never wavered in his devotion and loyalty to the United States and his fellow prisoners. Despite the adversities of confinement, he performed such duties and responsibilities as assigned by superiors and required of the Code of Conduct in an exemplary and highly professional manner. Displaying extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and dedication throughout this period of imprisonment, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.